Cabaero: An abundance of caution

Beyond 30

IT was good news for the families and those who were quarantined but later tested negative for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Those in quarantine have been released after 14 days of being separated from their families. After being deprived of close contact with them, those freed from isolation can now kiss and hug their families and enjoy a post-Valentine’s Day outing.

The number of those testing negative has been growing, the Department of Health (DOH) said last week.

DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that, as of noon on Friday, Feb. 14, 2020, a total of 386 persons held for investigation after showing the symptoms — such as high fever, cough and colds — have tested negative for the Covid-19. The DOH awaits test results for 66 more.

There are still 191 persons in hospitals being investigated for possible infection, while 260 were already discharged.

Those released were among the early batches of persons quarantined for having flu-like symptoms. They were detected either upon their entry at the airports or they were reported to the DOH by the hospitals where they sought treatment. The negative finding on them showed they did not have the disease and they were cleared to return to their normal lives after the 14 days of quarantine.

But it is still a tricky situation. Until health officials understand the disease better and find a cure, there will remain a lot of unknowns. Health experts have not been able to understand the new virus. Its causes, treatment and cure are still hypotheses, what with asymptomatic persons being found positive of the virus and symptomatic mother giving birth to a baby negative of the virus.

Doctors worry that asymptomatic transmission is still possible. Are test results even reliable? To those investigating the disease, it’s hard to understand.

While those quarantined have started leaving the medical facility, there should still be caution as there are several unknowns about the virus that continue to befuddle scientists and other experts.

Even the World Health Organization is not confident that the quarantine is effective. As one doctor said, you cannot quarantine a germ. An abundance of caution is what is needed, one official said.

The Philippines has been lucky, so far, with all three positive cases involving not local residents but Chinese nationals who have been here for short visits. That part was logical. The disease was said to have started in a part of China and those infected came from somewhere there. They must have caught the virus before coming to the Philippines. They got sick while in the country and got stuck here for the treatment.

There has been no case of local transmission of the virus. No local resident has been reported to have the Covid-19.

Let us hope the situation does not deteriorate because local transmission of the virus will pose tremendous challenges that we would not be able to handle effectively.


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